The Milkshake Provocation

Content: a short reflection on how being shouted at when younger still has a positive impact now. Even though I’d never recommend shouting

When I was about 16 I was working in a fast food chain that has a largely arch based logo. I had been told to fill up the milkshake machines with new mix – and then suddenly I was being shouted at. I was putting my second bag of mix in and one of the shift supervisors suddenly was shouting at me about costing the organisation thousands of pounds.

He picked up the ’empty’ milkshake mix bag and showed there was still more I could have squeezed out. He pointed out how many restaurants there were around the world and how often they would be using a bag of milkshake and if they all threw away as much as I did… Then just how much money did I think my laziness would cost the organisation each year? I just stood there. And then squeezed the hell out of every bag I ever used afterwards.

He taught me the value of not leaving money on the table. A lesson that has stayed with me throughout my career. Being shouted at in a giant fridge taught me that.

What’s interesting for me – and the more important provocation – is that I’d never advocate people shouting at each other and certainly not shouting at more junior members of staff in a contained area.

But like lots of life’s lessons I’m not sure that if it had been delivered in a less visceral way it would have stuck. I can still feel the emotions from that exchange. I’ve benefited from it every day of my professional life.

Like I say, I’d never advocate for that behaviour, but at the same time a two minute rant in a fridge has stuck with me for decades.

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